The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild lacks a key aspect of previous beloved Zelda games and as a result is less satisfying to complete.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was highly praised when it was released on the Wii U and Nintendo Switch in 2017. It became widely regarded as one of the greatest games of all time due to its fresh approach to exploring a beautiful open world. The gameplay also remains very tight and true to the iconic Zelda style. However, it lacks the larger dungeons that were the cornerstone of the most beloved games in the series, and for that, it suffers.
The Legend of Zelda games are traditionally centered around exploration, combat and puzzles. Although Breath of the Wild does the first two things brilliantly, the game’s puzzles are never able to develop enough to reach the heights of the previous games. The larger, maze-like dungeons of the past are replaced by 120 smaller shrines in Breath of the Wild. Although these offer some fun challenges, they are also very short (mostly two or three rooms). Unlike the previous games, which thrived on challenging players to figure out how to link puzzles and items to progress, these shrines offer only a small taste of this mechanic.
The gameplay of past Zelda games tends to follow the narrative of acquiring a new item or ability, which is then used in the puzzles of the following dungeon. However, in Breath of the Wild, players unlock all four rune abilities during the game’s extended tutorial. Although many shrines make great use of Link’s rune abilities, they never feel like the player is unlocking something new and exciting, given that they’ve had them since the beginning.
However, the main reason that Breath of the Wild suffers is that it loses the real sense of achievement that players felt in past games when every piece of a dungeon would finally come together. In these previous games, dungeons could feel almost like a Metroidvania in that Link would need to explore more advanced areas to progress through earlier parts of the map. Players would feel a huge sense of accomplishment when they finally found the last key or pulled the last lever that allowed them to open the door they’d been working so hard to get through. Sadly, Breath of the Wild‘s shrines are never long enough for players to get the satisfaction of tying everything together.
The closest Breath of the Wild gets to achieving this feeling is when Link enters inside the giant Divine Beasts to free them from Ganon’s corruption. These sections of the gameplay out more like traditional Zelda games. Players first complete a series of connected puzzles which span several different parts of the beast’s anatomy. Once these have been completed and the main terminal has been unlocked, players can then take on one of Ganon’s incarnations in a tough, multi-stage boss battle. These sections of the game are fantastic and offer a taste of a more traditional Zelda dungeon. However, there are only four Divine Beasts in the entire game, so people hoping to be entertained for longer than a few hours in these sections will be disappointed.
The inclusion of the shrines themselves is not the main issue here. In fact, they are fun and often very intuitive inclusions. Instead, the real issue is that these shrines are rarely accompanied by larger dungeons that challenge gamers to connect all of The Legend of Zelda‘s greatest attributes: exploration, combat and puzzles. The sense of incredible achievement and satisfaction gained from completing these more complex dungeons is a crucial part of the most beloved Zelda games, and without it, Breath of the Wild does sadly miss out. With Breath of the Wild 2 rumored to be released later in 2022, it will be interesting to see whether Nintendo chooses to reintroduce a few larger dungeons alongside the smaller shrines to give gamers the ultimate Zelda experience.
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About The Author
Bethany-May Howard (1 Articles Published)
Bethany-May Howard is a Gaming Features Writer for CBR. She’s been gaming ever since she was gifted a Game Boy Advance and Mario Kart: Super Circuit for her seventh birthday. She runs her own gaming Twitter and wrote articles for her own website before joining CBR. If it weren’t for her irreplaceable love for Fallout 3, Ghost of Tsushima would be her favourite game. She’s also a semi-professional football (soccer) player based in South West England.